Broadcast TVs Demise More Fiction Than Fact

Considering I am in the online video industry, some may say I am crazy for not wanting to follow the bandwagon that wants to shout from the top of their lungs that TV is all but dead. Yes, I get the impact online video is having on traditional broadcasters on many fronts, but when folks like the NY Times publish articles proclaiming that "TV is becoming obsolete", then the industry is setting everyone’s expectations incorrectly. TV is anything but obsolete.

Online video is having a huge impact on the way content is created, marketed and consumed, but distributing video online is not replacing traditional broadcast programming. I know some are under the impression that one day your computer will become your TV, but that’s not going to happen and we all know the Internet can’t even support those kind of numbers when it comes to viewers all watching a show at the same time. For all the talk of the writers strike and some of the data that has been put out saying that more people have gone online for videos, that does not change the fact that most of the content on TV is not available on the Internet.

I have over 60 season passes in TiVo. Going through all of them yesterday, more than 90% of the shows I watch are not available online anywhere. And the ones that are, like content from CBS and NBC, do not show up right after they are broadcast and typically take days if not longer to appear on the web. And in the case of something like 60 Minutes, one story alone is chopped up into 10 different video segments on their website and encoded at a pretty low bitrate. And sports, well forget that. No NFL games are available on-demand the next day online and while the MLB games are, it requires a subscription.

The demise of the TV is overrated and many in the industry keep saying the same thing as if they have to say it just to be cool. I keep hearing people in our space says things like "I don’t even need a TV anymore, I’ll just watch all my video online". Or, "there was nothing on TV last night so I went online to watch video". Nothing on TV? I don’t know about you but I have hundreds of channels and can always find something to watch. I don’t have hundreds of channels on the web of professionally produced content. It reminds me of the time when people in the industry had to use the word "convergence" or "broadband" in every single sentence they used as they were convinced that others would think that since they used those words they must "get it".

No one is throwing out their TV. And those who don’t watch TV, probably never really did to begin with, as opposed to people who want to use them as an example and say that online video is the reason. The TV is not going anywhere and way too often in our society people want to talk about one thing replacing another, instead of being a compliment to it. The TV did not replace the radio. Internet video is not going to replace the TV. P2P delivery is not going to replace all CDN delivery. These things are all complements to one another. We should see the TV for what it is, just another way to get different kinds of content for various viewing experiences.